Online MSW Degree
Curriculum and Course Descriptions
The curriculum at Boston University School of Social Work emphasizes content on diversity, ethics, populations-at-risk, and social and economic justice, which is integrated throughout our foundation and advanced msw courses.
This online MSW program offers majors in Clinical Social Work and in Macro Social Work practice. Students enroll in required and elective social work courses offered online and complete one or two field internships (depending upon the student’s track) within or near their geographic area.
Online MSW Required Courses
HB 720 Human Behavior in the Social Environment (3 credits)
This course constitutes the foundation course in the Human Behavior Department and is a prerequisite for all other courses in the HBSE sequence. The goal of the course is to enable students to develop a framework for analyzing human behavior in order to create empathic, empowering relationships with individuals, families, groups, organizations, and communities. A select set of theories is presented to enable students to examine how individuals and communities develop and interact. We also consider how oppression, power and privilege, and culture and cultural contexts can shape individual values, beliefs, worldviews, and identities, all of which play a role in the helping process. Finally, we examine human development throughout the lifespan, considering the developmental scientific knowledge base regarding opportunities and vulnerabilities present during the different stages of the lifecycle, and the biopsychosocial and cultural factors that can influence individual development. The ability to analyze human behavior in the social environment, drawing from theoretically and empirically grounded evidence bases is essential for all forms of social work practice.
HB 735 Racial Justice & Cultural Intersectionality of Oppression (3 credits)
Graduate Prerequisites: HB 720 or permission of department chair. This course examines the social psychological, and institutional causes and implications of racism as a dynamic force influencing social work. The course builds on and integrates concepts presented in foundation courses. It analyzes and evaluates the social, cultural, political, economic, and interpersonal contexts of racism that bear on our current policies and institutional arrangements. The course is designed to familiarize students with 1) theoretical overviews of race and racism; 2) historical accounts and contemporary experiences of racism; 3) the formation of racial identity; 4) multicultural contexts and fundamentals of cultural competency; and 5) effective social change efforts based on organizational analysis.
WP 700 Social Welfare Policy I (3 credits)
The first semester of this two-semester foundation course in social welfare policy explores concepts about the meaning and purpose of social welfare, ideologies, and values about the role of government and social welfare policy, the evolution of social welfare policy over time, and the role of social work in the development of social policy.
WP 701 Social Welfare Policy II (3 credits)
Graduate Prerequisites: WP 700. This second-semester foundation course focuses principally on the study of urban poverty. Using a social problem/policy model, the course explores definitions, correlates, causes, and consequences of urban poverty. The same model is then used by students in exploring particular social problems and policies of interest to them. Particular emphasis is placed on analyzing current interventions and proposing means to improve policy intervention, including the contributions of social work.
SR 743 Introduction to Social Work Research I (3 credits)
The goal of this introductory course is to develop the student's ability to use and engage in both quantitative and qualitative research in order to inform and evaluate their own social work practice. The course addresses key research concepts and procedures such as hypothesis formulation, measurement, sampling, research design, and data collection. The course also examines ethical issues in the conduct of social research, including informed consent, anonymity and confidentiality, culturally sensitive research methods, and the NASW Code of Ethics.
SR 744 Social Work Research II (3 credits)
Graduate Prerequisites: Satisfactory completion of SR 743 (C or above) or permission of department chair. Students are introduced to the concepts and procedures that are fundamental to both descriptive and inferential statistics. Empirical research examining the effectiveness of social work practice, particularly in the urban environment, is explored. Utilizing existing national data sets, students generate their own research hypotheses and then formulate and carry out an analytic strategy to answer these questions effectively. Emphasis is also placed on gaining skills in presenting and communicating key findings to relevant audiences and stakeholders.
ET 753 Social Work Ethics Seminar (3 credits)
This required seminar is intended to inspire the moral imagination of social work students, and prepare them for competent and compassionate ethical practice as professionals. Ethics and the Social Work Profession (ET 753), examines the issues of social work professionalism, the process of becoming a social work professional, the tensions inherent in the goals of social work, and the ways these interrelate to produce conflicts of values and ethics in social work practice. The course focuses on acquiring and practicing the skills of ethical decision-making, including values clarification, application of ethical theory, utilization of codes of ethics, and models of ethical analysis. Both clinical and macro aspects of social work are explored, with an emphasis on the contemporary challenges of practice in multicultural and urban settings. Issues of self-care, impairment, licensure, malpractice, whistle-blowing and other professional challenges are explored. The course is set in the advanced curriculum as an integrative capstone, designed to be concurrent with the student's final semester in the MSW program.
CP 759 Introduction to Clinical Social Work Practice (3 credits)
In this foundation clinical practice course, students learn principles and methods for assessment and intervention with individuals, groups and families. Competencies include establishing and maintaining a helping relationship, interviewing, contracting and goal setting, treatment planning and implementation. Students are able to apply appropriate interventions at various stages of the therapeutic relationship for various types of clients in an urban social context. In-class skill practice includes developing rapport, using a strengths perspective, monitoring self-disclosure, reaching for feelings, containing affect, focusing and summarizing.
MP 759 Communities and Organizations: Analysis and Intervention (3 credits)
This course familiarizes the student with basic concepts and strategies related to large system, or macro, practice. The primary focus is on community and agency analysis, along with methods of achieving change within those settings. Students acquire a basic framework for problem solving and an understanding of the opportunities and limits in the role of change agent.
FE 818-824 Field Education Internship
Field education at Boston University School of Social Work is a dynamic and integral part of students’ experience in which they learn through hands-on practice with individuals, families, groups, and communities.